Prayer is a necessary activity in our relationship with God. Communication is crucial in every relationship. (I am going to break this post up into two separate posts.)
I remember when I first met my wife, before texting or cell phones, and how we would spend endless hours talking. When I moved away to attend Bible school, I would often rack up $200+ phone bills talking to her on the phone. (Best investment still to this day!)
In James 5:13-18, we learn how God shapes us through our praying. Prayer is not to be a last resort but our first response when facing challenges.
How many times have we tried to fix problems or spend time thinking about how to get out of the jam we are in, when we should’ve been praying?
James begins by making a series of rhetorical statements. A rhetorical statement was a question where the answer is obvious.
- Is anyone suffering? Yes.
- Is anyone cheerful? Yes.
- Is anyone sick? Yes.
What things should we pray for? Pray for emotional health. Our emotional health has a far greater impact on our life than we give attention to.
Have you ever been stuck in a ditch, emotionally, and find it hard to get out? The Psalmist referred to this as “cast down.”
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 43:5
The term cast down is a shepherd’s term. Sheep like to find hollows in the ground to get comfortable and rest. The problem is that when sheep do this they tend to roll onto their side and then gravity takes over and they find themselves upside down, feet up in the air.
The gasses in their stomach build up and cause circulation to be cut off in their legs and prevents them from getting up. A sheep in the cast down position becomes easy prey to a predator.
The word suffering, in James 5, comes from the Greek word, Kakopatheo. It means to suffer troubles or evils, to endure affliction. In context, suffering refers to the negative emotional disposition as the result of other people.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3
David declared the LORD (Yahweh) is the lifter of my head. Before we try solutions that may only deepen our sadness, turn first to God.
No one is immune to suffering, but don’t set up camp in your suffering. It will only last for a season. Suffering is temporary. Yet, don’t let this season go to waste.
Suffering reveals a different side of God that cheerfulness doesn’t show us. We see His mercy, grace, and compassion in our suffering. If we respond in prayer God will redeem our suffering and refine our faith in the process.
“and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15
The sooner and longer you pray in suffering the shorter your stay there will be. When in doubt, PRAY. God will deliver you!
(Would you like to listen to the message that inspired this post? Click here.)